It was recess time, and our team was trying to reopen the entrance to a magical realm. We were working with four unique toys that could each provide a piece to the code. As the “math person,” one of us quickly jumped on the challenge that involved math and building a Lego structure. His forte! As he focused on the task, he sensed the action around him. It seemed like the team would be done with all the other activities before he could even start. His job was also beginning to get complicated, and he was having trouble focusing. He knew he couldn’t give up but wanted to work on a different task. Maybe he could finish something quickly to feel like he was contributing. He felt like he was missing out on the fun around him. He soon realized that the rest of the team had the same feelings. We were all having trouble getting started. Each team member’s perception of others succeeding while they were struggling was not what was going on. By pushing through, we could complete our tasks, and for those that needed collaboration, we started working on the tasks together. Just in time, we opened the door and entered the magical realm!
Frequently in our personal and professional lives, we can find ourselves in circumstances where we feel that we are the only ones struggling. And we get frustrated that others, who seem to be having so much success, cannot jump in to help us when we’re having difficulty. This is a double-edged sword in that it causes us to both want to stop working as hard on our projects (being independent) and simultaneously become resentful of others (feeling excluded). Since perceptions have internal and external components, we must work on solving both issues. As we become more emotionally intelligent and recognize that stress and frustration are feelings we cause ourselves, we need to take responsibility for those feelings and know that everyone can feel like that at times. Becoming more resilient allows us to get over those feelings and stay independent. We can do it! Also, as we become more aware of the emotions around us, we need to recognize that sometimes others are either trying to manage their own stress or that it may be that they can’t see the stress and emotions in you. We can address this by communicating our stressors and difficulties to others and sometimes realize that others are having problems too. And it may be that they need the help more than you. In the end, feeling excluded on the playground is a perception we control.